Like many children with separated parents, Lisa Brennan-Jobs’ childhood was split between two houses. On one hand, Lisa was influenced by her mother’s artistic, spartan approach on life and, on the other, she spent time with her father, the wealthy, cold, emotionally stunted founder of Apple computers: Steve Jobs.
Lisa Brennan-Jobs takes on the responsibility of taking her readers through the ups and downs of growing up with her mother, spending time with her father, and navigating and mitigating the rocky terrain of adult relationships as a young child. I grew up in a family with parents who have hardly spent a day apart from one another, so I found Brennan-Jobs’s perspective on childhood to be enlightening and a bit heartbreaking. My main takeaway from this book is just how challenging it is as a kid to be thrown into a world of adult emotions when you aren’t mature enough to understand them fully. The author does a really impressive job of conveying scenes and feelings with a childhood naiveté to really make the reader understand the position of the narrator as well as the psychological shaping of her position.
Similarly, It broke my heart to read about the young narrator’s constant attempts to make her father show his love to her in the same way that she’s used to receiving love from her mother. Constantly Steve Jobs disappoints Lisa and, by extension, me with his lack of emotional intelligence. The way this man displayed his psyche so accidentally and so openly was fascinating and a bit like watching a car accident.
Interestingly, I had to keep reminding myself that Small Fry is a memoir rooted in fact. Brennan-Jobs’s writing flows beautifully and immerses me into the story as though it was a piece of fiction. I kept having to sit back and center myself back to the real people in the stories, rather than thinking of them as villains (Steve Jobs) and misunderstood characters (Lisa’s mother and Lisa herself). This author will do really great things if she ever turns to fiction and I certainly would like to read that book if she ever writes it!
Overall? A really strong memoir that looks at psychology, human needs, nurture complexes and more, all while telling an engrossing story of a young woman growing into herself.